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tv   Face the Nation  CBS  January 3, 2010 10:30am-11:00am EST

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visit >> schieffer: today on face the nation we revive a cbs news tradition. a holiday round table. >> cbs news correspondent walter cronkite. >> this indeed will be a correspondents' report. >> schieffer: when i was coming up, my favorite thing in the holiday season was when cbs news would bring together its top correspondents to talk about the news. the trouble was by the time i became senior enough to participate, the round tables had gone away. today we remedy that as we bring together chief white house correspondent chip reid, our point man on terrorism bob orr, congressional correspondent nancy cordes, national security correspondent david martin, and our chief legal correspondent jan crawford to talk about the new terrorist
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threat, president obama's first year, the future of health care legislation and the nation's economy. i'll have some final thoughts as usual but first the correspondents the table. on "face the nation." captioning sponsored by cbs "face the nation" with cbs news chief washington correspondent bob schieffer. and now from cbs news in washington, bob schieffer. >> schieffer: good morning again. all things are as they were then except we no longer allow smoking in the studio. chip reid is with the president out in hawaii. the rest of our correspondents are around the table with us here in the studio. we want to say especially a welcome to jan crawford who you saw a lot of on "face the nation" back when she was the legal correspondent for the chicago tribune. she's back with us, back where she belongs. her blog crossroads is already up on the cbs website.
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we expect to see a lot of you, jan, right here. >> it's great to be back. >> schieffer: thank you. let's get right to the big story. and the news overnight of course was that the u.s. embassy and the british embassy in yemen had been closed because of a security threat. david martin, what have you been able to find out about this? >> usually when you close an embassy it's because there's been chatter on the internet and on cell phones about some sort of vague attack against western interests. that's different from what almost happened on christmas day in yemen. there was a specific plot to attack the american embassy on christmas day, and the u.s. preempted that attack with an air strike of its own. it launched jets off a carrier and cruise missiles from ships off shore. it hit two training camps in yemen. general david petraeus has said that they intercepted four suicide bombers who were on their way to the capitol.
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and they also killed some senior al qaeda in yemen operators. so when you look at that and you remember what else happened on christmas day, namely the near-miss on the bombing of the airliner in-bound to detroit, yemen... al qaeda in yemen really was planning a christmas surprise. >> schieffer: what you're telling us here is these were u.s. aircraft flying off a u.s. carrier that carried out the strike. we heard about that they had... there had been some strikes but the credit seemed to be going to the yemeny. this was a u.s. operation? >> it was. the yem yemenis gave the green light. it was done with their permission. this was an american strike conducted with intern intelligence and designed to preempt an attack against an american target. >> schieffer: both the british embassy and the american embassy in yemen have been closed.
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what about this guy that was caught on this attempt on the u.s. airliner? he's been talking a lot since they took him into captivity. >> he was arrested. we're talking about umar farouk abdulmutallab, the man on the flight. he gave everything to the f.b.i.. in fact he was the operative. it was almost like he was bragging. there was some fear that maybe he was spreading diz information. it turns out so far that the story he has told has checked out every step of the way. he said he went to yemen. said he got explosives there and said he trained on the arabian peninsula there. he told one thing that's very haunting. he was training in yemen with a number of other people. he didn't know how much. he called them his brothers. he said though we were segregated. he felt (garbled audio) you have to assume there....
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>> schieffer: chip reid, i take it the president was briefed. we begin every news cycle getting word that the president has been briefed. what else is going on out there? >> well, they're talking a lot about what is going to happen when the president gets back to washington. i think what you're going to see beginning on tuesday when the president has this meeting in the situation room with the heads of all the various agencies related to homeland security is kind of another version of the afghanistan review. it's going to be very methodical. it's going to be very comprehensive. governmentwide. the president is going to sit down at that table and go around the room and find out all the things that are wrong. i'm sure he will be criticized again for being kind of thoughtful rather than emotional. very logical in his response to this.
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the white house doesn't seem to care. they believe that the thing to do is to look at the system with very hard eyes and try to fix it. as far as any kind of head roll afterwards, you know, is there going to be personal accountability here? they say first you fix the system. then you focus on who is to blame. >> schieffer: jan crawford. some of the people involved in this plot were alumni of guantanamo. and the prison there. this particular person released during the bush administration. is this going to cause us, the administration, to rethink what we do about guantanamo? >> bob, it is certainly going to complicate whatever happens at guantanamo. i don't think the administration-- certainly we're getting no signals that they're going to rethink the decision to close guantanamo. that was a major campaign issue that obama ran on and with great fanfare after he was sworn in he declared it would be closed within one year. now that year is coming up. january 22. guantanamo is not going to be closed within a year of
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obama's executive order that that take place. that's going to take some time. the question is what's going to happen with these guys down at guantanamo? there's about 198 right now down there. i think 90 or so of them are yemenis. the last train to yemen has left the station. where are we going to do? obviously obama's identified a prison in thompson, illinois, but there's no money for that. democrats turned down a request of about $150 million to get that prison for those guantanamo detainees. that will be a major issue coming in the spring, how they're going to get that prison for those detainees and bring them here. moderate democrats are very skeptical. >> schieffer: you're convinced that they are not going to close this. have they admitted that to themselves, that they can close it by the deadline? >> president obama has acknowledged that it's very difficult practically speaking. they've had some problems with where to put these people. they've had to do an individual review of all these detainees. they've had pushback here in congress. but they're preched now to say
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acknowledge i think what we all kind of like there's gambling in casablanca, this thing is not going to close within that year deadline. they're not going to pushback. they still believe it must close in the interest of our security. they say that it's been kind of this worldwide symbol of what's gone wrong. that's the obama administration's position. but, bob, i think, you know, when you think about what we're going to do, where these, you know, 198 or so people are going to go, all accounts now are pointing to thompson, illinois. but the democrats in congress, you know, they haven't been too keen on giving obama $150 million could bring those people here. >> schieffer: it's one of the questions that really went unanswered during the presidential campaign. because both of the candidates, barack obama and john mccain, said we need to close guantanamo. because they both said that, we all forgot to ask the next question: how? and that is what they're dealing with now. >> let's face it. closing guantanamo is going to be nothing more than a change of address for the detainees because they still have the
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procedure of indefinite detention. for people you can't take to court because the evidence won't stand up in court for any number of reasons. but you consider too dangerous to release. that was one of the greatest criticisms of the bush administration's policy on guantanamo. and that apparently is not going to change. their location is going to change. >> schieffer: nancy cordes, you came back from europe yesterday so did you notice any difference in the security, any difference in procedures? >> absolutely. i mean we were screened again when we got to the gate. we had to go through security and then all of our carry-on luggage had to be screened by hand by security personnel. then when we got on to the airplane they took away our blankets at the beginning of the flight. they took away our blankets at the end of the flight so we couldn't hide something on our laps as this would be bomber tried to do. all of this extra security takes time. you know, and it takes manpower to do this kind of thing so our flight took off late. i think you're going see a lot
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of half-hour delays, hour-long delays as people wait to go through this extra screening. >> schieffer: where do you go? >> through berlin to copenhagen. it was in copenhagen on our flight to the u.s. that we saw the extra security. it was only the flights going to the u.s. as far as i could see that were getting the extra screening. >> schieffer: cheap reed, vice president cheney has been leading the republican attack. he said that the president simply is pretending that we're not at war with al qaeda. isn't the president going to really have to step out and take some decisive action here if for no other reason than just to counter this kind of criticism from the other side? >> well, you talk to them and they believe he already has. with the two statements that he gave and then the address that he gave yesterday, but, you know, the criticism diana and i think the reason it resonate s is because he becomes across a bit detached and cerebral when he makes these statements. when he finally did express
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frustration and maybe a little anger it wasn't so much towards the terrorists. it was toward the people who didn't stop them. so, you know, is there going to be the kind of change in tone that a lot of people really want? i think he's just going to continue to be president obama. he's not going to get out there with a megaphone and sound more angry than he naturally allows himself to be. so i think you're going to continue to hear that criticism. the white house of course is fighting back very hard. they say, look, he understands the dangers here. he's been talking about it throughout his entire first year but he doesn't have to beat his chest as one advisor put it to prove it. >> schieffer: jan, some people, critics of the president, are saying that perhaps the response to this was one of the low points of this administration. >> well, i mean when you're talking about the homeland security janet know poll tan yo coming out and insisting that the system worked and press secretary robert gibbs saying on this program last week pretty much the same language that the system has worked that's a problem. the american people can look
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out there and go, well, you know, it didn't. but it's not just those sound bites. i mean those are sound bites. the reason that's an issue for obama is it goes to the bigger question of the competency of his government. and the trust that people have in that government. if you look at polls, polls show that the trust in government is at an all time low. domestically the stimulus plan hasn't worked. unemployment is high. now we have a situation where a terrorist can get on an airplane, seemingly could have been caught if some officials had done a basic googing google search of a database and the home land security system is insisting that the system worked. that doesn't work. what people want to know is does obama have a plan? what is his plan to fight this long-term war against a determined jihadist enemy? what's the plan and do americans have the trust that obama is competent to fight that long-term war? >> part of the problem for the white house is their most effective counterterrorism tool is one that can't talk about and that is the predator
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drone campaign that from time to time you hear in the news. there's another strike in waziristan and pakistan. they've taken out an al qaeda leader or a taliban leader. we killed al qaeda number 3 about four times already. the c.i.a. will not admit they're doing this. they have a policy of plausible denyability. we've done some checking. under the first 11 months of the obama administration they've actually launched more drone strikes against terrorists than the last four years of the bush administration. so it's not quite accurate to say they haven't been aggressive. they have been aggressive at the point of the spear. trying to take out these cell leaders. and i think we're going to see more of those things going forward. right now they have determined that is the best way to go after the core command-and-control. >> look at what the obama administration has done. he approved sending more than 50,000 more troops to afghanistan. as bob just pointed out he increased the number of drone strikes in pakistan. now he's opened up this new front in yemen ordering u.s.
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aircraft and u.s. missiles to strike targets in yemen. that's hardly pretending like you're not at war. i think what he's trying to do is keep the war against terror from overwhelming his domestic agenda. and so he tries to low-key this as much as he can plus the normal sort of low-key nature of the way he addresses these things. >> schieffer: i want to get back to that. let me just ask nancy. he had some momentum going on his number one domestic priority. that was to get this health care bill passed. the senate finally passed it. now they're trying to reconcile it with the house version. is all of this going to slow down the momentum? >> well, the democrats can't afford to let the momentum slow down. they need to get a win on health care. they need to get it quickly. now we're in 2010. it's an election year. at the need to have something to run on. they'll keep moving full steam ahead on health care and all of these issues on terrorism, on afghanistan are going to add to what's already on their
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plate. you're already seeing the senate intelligence committee saying they're going to hold hearings on the yemeny issue, on the terrorism issue the day after they get back from recess and the house is going to be doing the same thing. >> the administration plan was to get the health care bill signed before the president makes his state of the union. probably the first part of february. are they going to make that deadline. >> that looks very grim. the senate doesn't get back until january 20. so that means that they would have, oh, about two weeks to reconcile all these differences on how you pay for health care, and on abortion and on the public option with the house, work out all those differences and then hold a series of votes before the state of the union. congress doesn't work that fast. >> schieffer: i'm not convinced that it is going to pass. it probably will in the end but i still think it's not a done deal. we're going to be back with more of our correspondents' round table in just a moment. by 2010, 30%... of the data stored on the world's computers will be medical images. the trouble is all of that information is trapped.
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>> schieffer: we're back with our correspondents round table. why did this fail? >> in an intelligence failure. but the reason the device failed is, according to the people i've talked to, it didn't reach a high enough temperature. he had enough material, enough petn, an element in common plastic explosives to blow the plane out of the sky. it could have been a very, very bad ending. the chemical that was injected into that did not trigger the kind of chemical reaction to cause an explosion but i think the government has to go back and look at two channels here. how bass it that the intelligence was so poor and so badly shared and collated. what about screening? you know, there was equipment in the airport in amsterdam that could have theoretically detected this device. it wasn't used because of privacy concerns.
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it's just amazing to me... (garbled audio) çñ >> going to be playing out. really the question is in early march. the obama administration is going to have to notify congress within 45 day. they're going to bring the 9/11 master mind self-confessed to new york city with four other top-ranking al qaeda terrorists for their trial to stand trial in a regular criminal court. that is unlikely really to take place, the entire thing this year. yeah, you're going to start seeing pretrial motions, lawyers arguing that their rights have been violated. motions for dismiss this indictment for outrageous government conduct. this decision by the obama administration, his attorney general eric holder, really i
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think represents the most significant break the obama administration has made away from bush administration policy. i agree with david. the supreme court has decided they should get some rights. holding criminal trials for these enemy combatants is something that historically the united states has never done. in world war ii we had the german saboteurs come ing into this country fdr ordered them tried by a secret military tribunal. they were executed month layer. we've decided, this administration has decided, that we're going to give them a full range of constitutional and procedural protections and allow them to be treated as ordinary criminal defendants. that's going to be a major issue picking up on what bob said of how we're going to kind of have this tension between the rule of law and rights for these people while we're also waging war. we're going to be holding them, giving them these full range of constitutional rights while we're stepping up drone
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attacks and trying to kill their counterparts. >> schieffer: david martin, the one thing we haven't gotten to so far is afghanistan. we're getting ready to send troops over there. if the congress approves the money to ship them over there. what does the pentagon expect over there this year? will we see some change in afghanistan? >> there's no question that 30,000 more troops are going to make life miserable for the taliban but that's only one part of the strategy here. the other part is that the afghan government has to get its act together, cut down at least some of the... the police have to expand and get a whole lot better so that they can take over the fight. if you believe that a chain is no stronger than its weakest link, then those are two very ify propositions. so if you look at the 30,000 troops and everything else that has to be accomplished you would have to say that the
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success of this strategy is by no means a sure thing. >> schieffer: nancy, is congress going to approve the funds to allow the president to carry out this? >> in the end they probably will. but it won't be the democrats... a majority of democrats who are supporting it. the president will probably get most of his support from republicans. one of his chief supporters is senator john mccain. a lot of democrats were hoping he would start ramping down in afghanistan not ramping up. the speaker of the house nancy pelosi was one of them. she has essentially said the president needs to carry his own water on this issue and convince his fellow democrats if he wants to get the funding for this troop increase. >> schieffer: i would add that the chairman of the foreign relations committee john kerry and the chairman of the senate armed services committee carl levin are both fairly luke warm about this too. the president will be on his own on this one. i agree with you. i think in the end he'll probably get the approval. >> it will be a lot of republicans and a small number of democrats most likely that give him the majority he needs.
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>> schieffer: let's round this out and get the thoughts of all of you on what is going to happen. what is your prediction for this year, chip reid? >> well, bob, health care reform. i think it probably will be passed. and signed into law. once that happens i think it's going to create a bit of a void in washington. the white house has hoped all along that that void would be filled with jobs, jobs, jobs. and making progress on the economy. but i'll tell you, i don't see how you can take all the oxygen out of the room with summits on jobs at the white house and town halls on jobs. i mean there's only so much the government can do. something has got to fill that void. i think it will be national security. i have think it's going to be yemen. i think it's going to be progress in afghanistan. i think in 2010 president obama is going to be defined as a war president much more so than in the previous year. >> schieffer: nancy. >> i the senate democrats are going to lose their super majority. there are more democratic incumbents who are in trouble
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than republican incumbents in the fall. that means that the president's agenda getting it passed will be a lot more difficult. >> schieffer: lose their super majority but probably hold their majority. >> they won't be able to break a filibuster. >> 30,000 troops will reverse the taliban momentum in afghanistan. that will be the beginning of a long, hard slog which will leave tens of thousands of american troops in afghanistan at the end of president obama's first term. >> schieffer: ten seconds. >> we will face more home grown terror threats from radicals reaching across to known operatives. we need to button that down now. >> justicedown paul stevens will retire from the supreme court at 90 giving obama his second nomination. the solicitor general will be the nominee replacement. i'm not saying the order of importance but the university of al allege will win the national championship. because we're not playing the horn frogs. >> schieffer: may i just add that i would predict that the associated press, coachest year gary materson will lead the horn frogs to victory in the fiesta bowl over a very
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>> schieffer: finally today homeland security chief janet napolitano is getting hammered because her first response to the fiasco was that the system worked. we shouldn't have looked be surprised. she looks silly now that the facts are dribbling out. she was following the modern bipartisan public information template in this age of information management. first play down the problem. second emphasize what did not go one. assure us that those in charge are investigating and most important emphasize no one in any position of responsibility is at fault. it's not lying. but it's not exactly the whole truth. certainly not the whole story. oh, she left out was that part about asking us to respect the privacy of those involved. oh, i'm sorry. i got the government spin mixed one the tiger spin. here is the difference. tiger can hire as many people as he wants to make his excuses. it may do him no good but it's
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money to spend as he wishes. when government officials insult us with spin, they're doing it on our dime which is supposed to be used to operate the government not to hold news conferences to tell us what a fine job people on the public payroll are doing. as we learned during katrina, self-serving spin at the first sign of crisis does not help the situation. it makes it worse. because it makes it harder to believe anything the government says. real security is built on trust in government. that requires truth which should be the beginning of government presentations, not the fallback position. back in a minute.
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>> schieffer: that's it for us. we'll see you next week right here on face the nation. captioning sponsored by cbs captioned by media access group at wgbh (announcer) how can the oil industry in the north sea, impact fishing markets in japan,
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